jona: Jin, of KAT-TUN, joyful (JE - Jin joy)
[personal profile] jona
This post isn't actually related to Jin's teasing teaser the other day -- I had three quarters of it written two weeks ago, but then I didn't have the time fill in the gaps and edit the edges. In any case, it's been brewing for a while.

So, this is a post about Jin, and my feelings on Jin, the evolution of my feelings on Jin, and some Jin theory. As such it's a bit of a messy post with some back and forth, because these things are related but only to a certain degree. Also, if you've had the misfortune/luck of being my roommate on certain fannish sleepovers or locked inside my car on long drives lately, you've heard most of this before as it was brewing away. ^_^

Please be advised that any speculation about how Jin felt or what Jin was thinking is speculation, and just because I don't go 'I think he might have thought' all the time doesn't mean I'm claiming I can read his mind. Okay? (This should be obvious but you never know, sometimes this fandom takes mind-reading very seriously.)

Part 1: Me&Jin

So forgive me, let's live this life that I missed
Let's hit this life say hello with a fist

For a long time in 2010 and 2011, Jin was giving me a hard time. I wasn't angry with him for going solo; it was pretty heartbreaking but I always thought that kind of choice is one you're entitled to as a human being, and I'd never actually thought he'd just ditched KAT-TUN willy-nilly because he couldn't be bothered one morning. (More on that later.) But in the wake of him going solo, there were all these little things that made it so much harder (for me) to love him, and that parts of that felt deliberate made it even worse.

The stuff that piled up:

1) The opening text to the Yellow Gold 3011 tour. I watched that concert pretty late, having put it off for emotional reasons, and the first time I started the file, I got as far as the screen that goes, roughly quoted, 'And to those who have felt betrayed... fuck you.' It felt like a slap in the face, and I had to shut the video down. I never felt Jin had 'betrayed me', so technically he wasn't talking about me, but I couldn't get over this feeling of him meaning everyone who had at all been upset about him leaving KAT-TUN.

2) That's What She Said, the lyrics of which were terrible, and which read to me as very misogynistic at the time.

3) The sunglasses and the unshaved look. It's on the one hand a shallow thing, and half the time complaining about Jin's sunglasses (his 'bras') is in good fun, but when you're already feeling doubtful of Jin, the eternal hiding himself and making himself willfully fugly really does not help.

4) I'm one of the few people who don't like the studio recording of Eternal. That's not a character flaw of Jin's, but it was this huge thing I had been looking forward to, at a time when I really needed something Jin-related to be happy about, and then the studio version was this oversung, overly dramatic breathy thing, and I had one more thing to be disappointed about.

5) 'Two fingers to the past' in Like You, and how that both sounded and looked -- I don't recall where I saw it first, to be honest, but Jin making the English 'up yours' gesture to the past was no fun to watch.

6) Reports about the sunglasses in concerts, short MCs and no engagement with the audience.

A mix of big and small, but it all came together as me feeling, as a fan, in a constant state of rejection. Jin didn't want his old KAT-TUN fans. Jin didn't care if I ever came to his concert and had a good time. Jin didn't actually want me to like him.**

It didn't feel all that great.

I somewhat paradoxically got over some of those unpleasant feelings in the wake of the 2011 Wedding Clusterfuck, where some of the shit people were saying and the news coverage he was getting was so appalling that I kind of forgave Jin for being a bit of a dick to me (fan-me) in light of what huge ginormous fertility-festival-sized dicks people were being to him.

Then he had his activities suspended, and I kept wavering between thinking 'at least he can't cause any more trouble' and worrying whether he even would come back.

Then he came back at the insistence of Warner, had his two singles, which I liked, and an album, which I wholeheartedly loved.

[#JUSTJIN excursion]
I don't want to preach at people for whom Jin's solo music just doesn't do it, because music is subjective and that sort of stuff is annoying. I will say, though, that I think calling #JUSTJIN 'just another dance album' is missing the mark. If A Page was a three and a half minute powerhouse Declaration of Intent***, I think #JUSTJIN was the longer, slightly mellower version of that. I'm not saying that all songs on this album are lyrical masterpieces, but there are thematic threads going through this album, which is where I think the impression of 'cohesiveness' is coming from that people who do like the album musically have expressed: what his plans are, what (still) pisses him off, that he really wants to make people enjoy themselves, and who he wants to be as an artist, with all the variety that entails. (Incidentally, it also had no 'I am twelve years old hahahaha' lyrics anymore. Just saying.)
[/#JUSTJIN excursion]

So that helped. Then I saw his Club Circuit concert, and I also learned some stuff about the original Jincident, and I can honestly say that by the end of 2013, I'd made my peace with every single one of those things on my list of grievances. Every single one.

In order, though not in chronological order of the peace-making:

1) Makes much more sense when seen as part of the pattern of 'Jin is really fucking angry'. I also got a better appreciation of the separating out of fans who felt he 'betrayed' them, and realised it didn't actually apply to me. But mostly, it makes sense if you assume that Jin was really fucking angry. (See below.)

2) Already mostly redeemed for me when I watched the Japonicana tour documentary and saw the performance that goes with it, in which Jin partly deconstructs the song by being the one to 'swallow, swallow, swallow'. This pretty much took the sting out of it for me entirely. It's still a dumb song, like Jin's a twelve-year-old who's just discovered that dirty joke and is now writing a whole song about it because OH GOD SO HILARIOUS. But I can roll with it; in fact, after seeing it in Club Circuit and Jin being the one to 'swallow, swallow, swallow' again, the song has grown on me, like a slightly dumb but fun fungus.

3) The sunglasses are here to stay, but nothing that Jin did professionally after his comeback had that 'don't look at me, how dare you want to look at me' off-putting vibe. He shaves, he takes great photos, he's looking mighty fine.

4) Them's the breaks. I have New Life now, which is recorded beautifully. Plus there's a concert version of Eternal now that works perfectly.

5) IT'S A PEACE SIGN!!!! It took seeing this performed in concert in Osaka, and his dancers making a V-sign to 'two fingers to the past', for me to even consider that maybe I just got that one wrong and it was a PEACE SIGN. Because his dancers did the V-sign the right way around (palm facing forward), and Jin did it the 'wrong' way around, making it look like the British 'up yours' but then Jin also did the HIGH FIVE the wrong way around, and, really, occam's razor: between a) Jin doing a peace sign the wrong way around and b) Jin doing something completely different from the dancers in the show he himself produces and knowing the meaning of an extremely British gesture, which one do you find more likely? And no, I don't actually know if he wrote it with a peace sign in mind, but if he meant it in the 'two middlefingers' way, he's since changed his mind and is reinterpreting the song through the performance. So I'm good here.

6) I've since seen him live, and he sang and danced his heart out, and played to the camera when there was a camera: he wanted us who were there to have a great time, and he wanted those not there to have a good DVD. I might still quibble with the lack of encores / coming back out, but you really can't say he doesn't work his ass off to give you a good show. (I'm not even being hyperbolic: on the concert of the 17th he looked like he was about to keel over and faint from exhaustion, but he still threw himself into the choreography till the very end. And I think he sang even more live than is live on the DVD.)

So ever since his comeback, Jin has been making me happy pretty much NONSTOP, and soothed some pains from before his comeback. I'm not really used to Jin being my sparkly joy pony anymore, but turns out he is.

Part 2: The Jincident and Unfair Ultimatums (or 'Jin is really fucking angry')

They don't want to get their own, cause work is required

The other thing that happened apart from the concert was that I had two longer talks with two people who were in Japan around or shortly after Jin left KAT-TUN, and had picked up a few things from the Japanese entertainment biz rumour mill that never, in that explicitness, made it into international fandom. They're Jin-positive / Jin-sometimes-positive-sometimes-doubting people, if that is relevant; I considered them agenda-free. They also didn't know each other, so I got pretty much the exact summary of scuttlebutt from two entirely separate people.

The scuttlebutt was this: We knew already -- or if you were in the fandom at the time, you knew -- that Johnny 'made Jin choose' between the American stuff and KAT-TUN, because he said so. What was new to me, though, was that the whole ultimatum was (according to Japanese entertainment biz rumour, as is this entire paragraph; I find it plausible but just so you don't accuse me of presenting rumours as facts) way more hardcore than this, and essentially designed to push Jin out of the band. It wasn't just the America ambition (which, keep in mind: Johnny had America ambitions for years****), it was any solo work at all. 'You can either stay in KAT-TUN and not do any solo work at all, or you can leave.' For an artist like Jin, that is really not much of a choice, and, more importantly, it indicates very heavily what they wanted him to choose, because having some solo work on the side is really not anything weird or unusual for a Johnny's artists. To tell someone like Jin, 'if you stay in the band you won't get to do any of the solo work you want and that every other artist in the company gets to do now and then', it basically is telling him to leave.

Jin -- scuttlebutt -- didn't want to leave KAT-TUN and offered to dial back on the solo stuff, as long as he could have a little club tour or some such now and then. But no dice, it was KAT-TUN and no solo, or solo. Jin, for his part, doesn't want to do what Yamapi did with NEWS in the first place. (Keep them waiting and screw with them.) So he takes the hint and picks the solo option.

On the part of management, this makes a certain amount of sense. (I think it musically screwed KAT-TUN and it screwed the fandom, but this is not a scenario that only works if management are entirely illogical brickheads.) Jin's invite to the Nokia in LA came at a super-inconvenient time (remember: the timing of Jin's first excursion to America was an outside factor that neither Jin nor J&A decided) that clashed with KAT-TUN's tour; further scheduling could become tricky; if ever you had an artist within J&A that could make the crossover to America, it was Jin; KAT-TUN would still have a frontman... so yeah, let's entice the guy heavily to pick the America option!

So, while not entirely new to me, this had totally different shades from what I'd known thus far. And I have to say, I find it entirely plausible. Not because I'm desperate to hang on to 'Jin didn't really hate KAT-TUN' (though, you know, I really don't think he ever hated KAT-TUN). The reason why I find this so utterly plausible, on top of hearing this from two separate, Jin-positive-but-agenda-free people, is because it explains so much of the stuff that follows. Especially the 'oh, Jin' stuff. I sat there and heard all these details and it ALL CLICKED INTO PLACE. (Except for the 'I am twelve and this is ~erotic lyric~ haha' stuff. That, I guess, stays in 'Oh, Jin' territory.)

Let's look at it.

Starting your first solo tour with an intro text that literally says '...fuck you' to 'those who feel that I've betrayed them' is really not a clever way to stroke and nurture your heartbroken fanbase. But it makes a whole lot more sense from a guy who feels he got pressure, an unfair deal, and isn't even able to tell anyone about it.

Then comes 2012. The great mystery of the Wedding Clusterfuck was always why Jin would be so willfully reckless to let Johnny read about it in the paper. There was a pregnancy, so it's not like they could have kept this going as a secret marriage without anyone asking questions for years on end. And as much as I've argued and gotten pissy about suggestions that Jin (or Meisa) were 'disloyal' to their respective agencies by getting married or that they 'owed' their agencies getting rid of the baby, I'll be the first to admit that Jin's approach to damage control / PR management was really kind of awful. And while I don't remember the exact years this aired, I do think it was still fairly late that Jin spoke very fondly of Johnny in interviews. So I'd been scratching my head why he didn't go to Johnny with it. (Like Kimutaku did; like people said he should have done.) I thought that at some point, he must have stopped trusting Johnny, but I wasn't entirely sure why, why he'd go from seeming very fond of him to doing something that willfully destructive.


If I assume the version of events above is true and that this is how it went down, this all stops being so weird.

Part 3: Jin Theory

Sometimes I wonder
Why they try to pull us under
Let go, would you let me go
Back to my agenda

So Jin gets his first solo concerts. He gets invited to LA for those two concerts at the Nokia that clashed with KAT-TUN's tour. Jin gets this hardcore ultimatum, goes with where the management wind is blowing, takes the solo option.

Then the whole thing gets the typical JE treatment of 'no decent communication, no explanations'. There are no interviews about this, no goodbyes, no closure, not from Jin or KAT-TUN, KAT-TUN were always 5, please stop talking about this now.

[Pi Excursion]
If you think how Pi's exit from NEWS was managed was the standard, you haven't watched the JE-and-'scandals' show for long. Pi's exit from NEWS being properly managed and acknowledged was not the standard, it was a big fucking exception. Really, I don't want to play the older-fan-than-you-card here, but I really think this is something you may not appreciate if you weren't in the fandom for long before Pi's split from NEWS. That was NOT NORMAL.
[/Pi Excursion]

But this usual strategy blows up in JE's face big time. People don't stop talking about it, and then the media and the fans turn on Jin and call him disloyal and selfish and an asshole, and nobody in the agency, because this agency Doesn't. Comment. On. Stuff, ever speaks up on his behalf and explains that this was a 'mutual decision' or 'what we thought was best for everyone.' Jin's just getting all this shit and is basically thrown to the media wolves after the agency made him 'choose' in a pretty biased 'choice', and nobody is even allowed to talk about it.

Boy, would I be pissed off, too.

So, yes, I think this version of events gives a very explanatory context to a whole bunch of otherwise weird stuff.

The anger thread in his songs and how personally he's taking the haters (so that they pop up in nearly every song) speak of a guy who's feeling unfairly treated. The clusterfuck of 2012 speaks of a guy who is convinced that his agency no longer has his back. The theme of wanting people to 'hear it from his mouth' that runs through quite a lot of his songs too speaks of a guy who has things he'd really like to clear up, but wasn't allowed to. Jin is really, really preoccupied with feeling misunderstood and misrepresented by the media sometimes.

Him leaving JE when his contract was up is almost only a footnote. So he already feels he got screwed by the agency in 2010, and then he gets married (clusterfuck and all) and they bench him -- a newly-starting solo artist -- for one and a half years as punishment and he has to pay cancellation fees for a tour he didn't want to cancel. By all accounts, J&A even wanted to bench him for two years, basically until his contract was up for renewal, and it was only Warner going, 'erm, no' eventually that brought about last year's releases and tour. I would bet that doesn't make a guy feel treated any more fairly.

Other rumour has it that when his contract was up, the agency went and said, 'We can renew your contract, take out the overseas stuff, and give you a proper comeback now', and I know some people thought less of Jin for not accepting this as a second chance, or not giving the agency a second chance, or whichever way around it was. But honestly? He's turning 30. There's only so much room for trial and error and restarts of his career. And that he doesn't want to trust an agency that threw him to the media wolves and screwed with him for the last four years with his entire future career, by tying himself to them for however many years is in my opinion not only understandable, it's smart.

So, this was my version of events. I don't need things to have gone down that way for Jin to be my sparkly joy pony. But it's pretty funny how it all fits together.

This post is open for discussion and also disagreement, but note that I will shut down any hatefests, should any be started.

Which you don't have to read, unless you're going to disagree with me furiously. In which case, please do check for ground already covered.

Unattached Footnote #1 Please note that even saying 'I think JE screwed Jin on this' isn't the same as saying 'JE is Evil.' The world's a complicated place, and an employer can be nurturing and supportive of one person, while another person, for whatever set of circumstances, gets a shitty treatment. So I am not saying that JE never did anything good for anyone ever, and never treated any of their artists well. They've treated some better than others, at different times. In 2010 Jin unfortunately falls under 'others' here.

(I am, on the other hand, fairly generally saying that JE is a weird company. Which is also not the same as saying they're evil.)

Unattached Footnote#2 I'm also not arguing that Jin is somehow martyring himself as a solo artist. His solo career is clearly important to him and he's enjoying getting to do his own thing. As should be clear from the stuff above the above, I don't actually need the Unfair Ultimatum Theory to accept that he's got a right to go solo if he wants to. The Unfair Ultimatum theory is relevant in the context of 'Jin always hated KAT-TUN', 'WTF was that in 2012' and I'll admit also relevant to my reaction to 'Jin screwed KAT-TUN!!' accusations, but this particular detail was more explanatory than 'redeeming Jin' for me.

Unattached Footnote #3 I fully understand and respect that That's What She Said still leaves a very bad taste in some people's mouth. If you feel those feelings, those are your feelings. I'm just over it enough that I can see the song in the whole Jin context, which is the context of a guy who treats women more as people than most Japanese entertainment stuff I've seen. (I do think some of the post-TWSS lyrics interpretations has gone way over the top, with a side dose of 'how can we possibly make Jin sound bad' filtered through from the haters.)

Unattached Footnote #4 The one thing that I haven't yet been able to puzzle out is the timing of A Page and the 'bitch that lied'. I am totally on board with that interpretation that went round at the time (see footnote ***) which argued that the 'bitch that lied' most probably was J&A, but Jin being this fucking angry at the agency as early as early 2010 doesn't quite fit into the timeline yet.

**To prevent misunderstandings: Jin doesn't know me and I am more than fine with that, and I don't mean that he literally rejected me, Jo Lasalle, personally as a human being. This is just the fan-me.

***I really think that's what it was. It's a shame that very detailed analysis-slash-interpretation of the song has disappeared off the internet, because I agreed with about 95% of it. I take this song extremely seriously, and I'm sometimes surprised that, despite the discussion around that interpretation, it didn't make a bigger splash in people's long term memory, because I really do think that was Jin's declaration to the fans, on past and present and on wanting their blessing.

****I lost the link to this, but AFAIK, Johnny started the whole boyband thing in Japan because he didn't manage in the US, way back when? I also lost the link to Johnny's statement directly after the news leaked that Jin was leaving KAT-TUN but that one I remember very well.
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the paranoid android

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